Weeshie's Week

Fitzmaurice got his calls just right to the replay

July 20th, 2015
by Weeshie Fogarty

It was one of those dark gloomy so called summer days as the rain cascaded down with the towering Killarney Mountains in the back ground completely shrouded in heavy mist. Eleven seconds, that’s all it took to finally decide the winners of this epic two game Munster final saga in Fitzgerald’s Stadium last Saturday evening. Eleven seconds of pure Kerry football magic, another moment in time to savour, store away in the mind’s eye with the multitude of other magical memories we have witnessed down through the decades The teams were locked together on the score board, 0-9 to 1-6, Paul Kerrigan having scored the Cork goal just before half time when he left David Moran and Jonathan Lyne trailing in his wake to rattle the net. This had given the rebels a massive boost as they sprinted to the dressing rooms. Now with ten minutes left in the game the result was balanced on a knife edge and it appeared to me the visitors were beginning to believe they would win this game as they drove forward. Then it happened, Davis Moran, my man of the match just ahead of Shane Enright gained possession in the middle of the field, kicked a long low ball into the corner to Colm Cooper who had just come on the field minutes before hand. As the ball left Moran’s boot he was late tackled, the referee, Maurice Deegan, now had two options, he could award the free from where the ball landed or he could apply the five seconds advantage and wave play on. Luckily for Kerry he blew for the free and as some of the Cork players were turning to him complaining, Colm Cooper as always was the quickest to react. Donnacha Walsh sprinted into the open space, took Coopers lighting fast deliver, saw his shot brilliant saved by Ken o Halloran in the Cork goal. The ball rebounded; Paul Geaney snapped it up, pretended to kick with his right, came back to his left foot and guided the ball past the diving Cork defender Michael Shields. The Dingle man has the finish of a natural born forward as he had displayed in in the first minute of the All Ireland final last year. Eleven seconds on my watch from Moran to Geaney. How often have we seen instances of brilliance such as this by a Kerry player in the past, split seconds decisions that decides results? Mickey Sheehy, Kerry’s greatest would do it, Maurice Fitzgerald, John Egan, Garry McMahon, Mick o Connell, Mike Frank Russell. All these players had that something special, vision, lighting fast reactions, the ability to think that split second faster than anyone else on the field. Colm Cooper has been doing it with his club and county for years, reacting in the blink of an eye as we saw last Saturday. The secret of Kerry. What other county other than the Kingdom can boast moments of brilliance as we have seen down the decades. Mickeys Sheehy’s legendary goal against Paddy Cullen of Dublin from THAT free in 1978 took eight seconds from the whistle to the back of the net. Paul Geaney’s goal stunned Cork and really they never recovered from the shock. James o Donoghue kicked a massive point, he had a fascinating dual with Cork defender James Loughery all day, Aidan o Mahoney, one of Kerry’s greatest warriors put his body on the line to effect a superb block down, Anthony Maher, having a blinder at mid field finished up full back as he followed Alan o Connor into the Kerry square. Paul Galvin sporting a thick black beard entered the fray for the first time in over twelve months and the roar that greet him was the most thunderous I have ever heard at a Munster final in Killarney. Brave Corks superb effort to end twenty years of never winning in Killarney continues. Eamon Fitzmaurice, the gentleman that he is, but ruthless in his decision making had admitted after the drawn game the Kerry management had a bad day at the office. Not so last Saturday, all their decisions were spot on, and the best Kerry fifteen began the game, whether this was decided as a result of training displays is open to argument. Brendan Kealy s brilliant save just before half time was for me one of the most vital moments of the game. He literally got his finger tips to that rocket of a shot to push it on to the post. Another goal so soon after the Kerrigan goal would have I believe probably send Cork on their winning way. Tarberts Shane Enright is developing into one of the best corner backs in the game, he was superb, and his shadowing of Brian Hurley over the two matches was the perfect example of corner back play for all young aspiring Kerry footballers based on the three Cs, close continuous coverage, but without fouling. However the defence as a unit with Paul Murphy, Killian Young and Jonathan Lyne driving forward at all times were magnificent and laid the foundations for Kerry’s 77th winning of the cup with no name. What needs to be said about Brian Sheehan that has not been said here in this column before, just to repeat, he is easily the best ever consistently brillant free kicker from the ground that I have seen in the game. The St Marys man has brought his kicking style down to an art form and the expectation from the crowd when he steps up is electric in its anticipation. How fortunate we are to have such a man in the county. His kicking, the Cooper free, the mid-field men’s dominance, Kealy s save, Marc o Se’s presence, James o Donoghues selfless running, the winners experience and footballing skills in the most difficult conditions, but most of all their astonishing fitness levels displayed as the game entered its final ten minutes is a tribute to Cian o Neill the man responsible for their preparation. Kerry will have to do better than this to retain the All Ireland and strive for a more settled team but these two epic battles with Cork are just what the doctor ordered. Dublin are my fancy at the moment to win but as we are now entering the knock out stages and we will have a far better view of things and Kerry as always will be there to put the cat among pigeons.

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